Thursday, May 26, 2011


'When I first started telling people that Aiden and I would be moving to Aberdeen the most encouraging response I got was from our Swedish philosopher friend who informed me that I would love living in Aberdeen because being there felt like being inside a black and white picture. 

Another man told me that if I wanted to know what Aberdeen was like I should go into a shower, paint it grey, turn the tap on cold and just stand there with my clothes on, "...That's Aberdeen" he said matter-of-factly.'

Aberdeen.  We've been there once. We did not love it. 
It didn't come as much of a surprise, no one who has grown up in Scotland expects to love Aberdeen. Very few people even expect to like Aberdeen.  Aberdeen is grey, it's wet and it's full of people who work in the oil industry. Who are universally acknowledged to have no souls.  My oldest friend, Dancing Girl, calls it Aberdoom. We thought that was just her being Dancing Girl (she lives in the West End. Once when she was looking for a new flat I suggested she try the looking south of the river, she laughed at me. I WAS BEING SERIOUS) and we went to Aberdeen with an open mind. We rented a sweet flat over looking the docks, we went to a nice wedding where there was even a rabbit and then we went to the cinema to see the worst film ever made, and then we left. As fast as we could. It's not just that Aberdeen is grey, it's GREY. Seriously, add saturation to Lauren's (gorgeous) photos of it and the only thing that would change would be the colour of the cars. And it smells funny. And perhaps this was just the fact that we were in town on a Friday night, but it felt kind of menacinng. There was tension in the air. The kind of tension you get when boatloads of over-paid young men who have been at sea for four months in a big metal container with hundreds of other over-paid young men are poured out into the streets and allowed into bars to spend all of that (over)pay before they climb back into their container and head out to sea again.
And yet.  Lauren is starting to like it.  So maybe it's not all bad?  Google tells me that 171 people came here from Aberdeen last month, I dunno but maybe some of you tell me what there is to love about Aberdeen?

 *photos by Lauren McGlynn. A Texan in Aberdeen (really.) 


  1. Loving that you are writing more. x

  2. I know nothing about Aberdeen except that my grandmother originally came from a small village north of Aberdeen. I have always had such romantic notions of the place; green and windy and wet (yes) but also full of mystery. Perhaps the reality is a little different with all other oil-men now traipsing around the place

  3. I loved these photos when I saw them on Lauren's blog! So lovely. Almost made me briefly consider going to Aberdeen. Almost.

  4. Poor Aberdeen! It really isn't that bad - september in the city, for example, is beautiful when the leaves turn. You also have to see the light in autumn. It is a very special sort of light, slants at a particular angle and lights up every shining piece of silver in the granite. Gorgeous!

  5. Apparently when he was growing up in Glasgow Aidan & his buddies used to sing the song I'm Blue (Da-Ba-Dee) but change the lyrics to "I'm Blue, in Aberdeen I will die, in Aberdeen I will die" and so forth. Considering that he now likes it so much that he wants to stay here it may have been prophesy. Also I've only been out in down town Aberdeen on a Friday night once and it was exactly as you describe it, to a T. You are such a good writer, and it goes without saying that I will spend the whole day over the moon to have my pictures here. xx

  6. When I first went to Aberdeen I was nervous too. But I completely loved it. Sure it's not the prettiest bridesmaid, but I think I've always been weak to a funny face.

    Things to love about Aberdeen...

    My ma and pa (the dreaded oily expats)

    Jaw dropping country side 15 minutes out of town

    The Picture House Cinema

    The park in the old town

    Even the grey/drizzle/fog lets you pretend you are in a Bronte novel. (Clare B you have it spot on!)


  7. I'm going tomorrow for the first time but will be off a train, into a hotel for a meeting and then back on the train. Somehow, I don't that will be enough to judge whether I like it or not...

  8. Oh, a new blog to follow - gorgeous pics. When I have the pennies to process film ... *sigh* There's an old quarter of Aberdeen which looks nice, though I've only ever driven by it so I need to explore more. Must say my first impressions were exactly the same as yours, couldn't wait to leave the place. But it's growing on me. If anyone else has tips for Aberdeen or Aberdeenshire's Good Bits I'd be grateful, we moved near the city a few months ago and I'm still mostly just missing fife...

  9. What Cate said. Also, I went to Aberdeen when I was 16 to join a yacht to sail the eastern coast of Scotland. I went back the next summer to get a ferry to Shetland to join the Tall Ships Race. I keep meaning to write about it, maybe one day I will. Aberdeen is a strange place but one that is forever associated in my mind with the summer that I grew up.

  10. Beautifully bleak.

  11. I moved to Aberdeen from the south west coast when I was 17 for university. At first I liked it (first feelings of freedom and all) but then I spent a couple of years despising the place. So I went away for a year, surprisingly quite missed the place, so moved back, fell in love with the city and it's idiosyncrasies, and stayed for 5 more happy years.

    There are lots of good things about Aberdeen.

    * It's small so it's really easy to get to know lots of people quite quickly.
    * It's got a great live music and arts scene.
    * the beach and areas around the beach (like Footdee) are gorgeous.
    * There are some great pubs (like Under the Hammer) and some great coffee shops like Kilau and A Beuatiful Mountain.
    *Within 15-20 minutes you can go from the city centre to the beautiful scenery of Royal Deeside.

    I could go on all day but I'll stop now ;)

  12. it really does look doom-full. if that's a word. menacing, even. but i know nothing about it, so i have no tips on how to brighten up your outlook on it. good for you, trying to have an open mind.

  13. i live here and have for 8 years now - its arts (and crafts too) sector of th epopulation is massive, almost like an undercurrent, adding soul to the money people. I love that you have the city, but its a small city that you can walk around easily, that you have the beach and the countryside too. It is vibrant and when the day is clear, the stonework is not grey, it sparkles. It gets under your skin

  14. my friend Matt is from Aberdeen and he hated it. He know lives in Sydney and has no intention of returning to his home town.

    That's interesting what you say about the tension in the air. I remember him talking about all the oil money and the people it brings and how it affects the city. He didn't really talk about it in a positive light!

  15. Man, I have never been to Aberdeen but I am shaken by a Glaswegian calling another city "menacing". I will take your word for it!

  16. @Lauren, that song is now stuck in my head.

    Also, you take lovely, lovely photos.

  17. It sounds like Seattle.

  18. I live there and have a love/hate relationship with it. But yes, it is grey. And wet

  19. As an Aberdonian living in Glasgow I can honestly say that Aberdeen is the safest place I've ever lived!
    It's so quaint! I miss it :(


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